August 31, 2018
by Kenny Yeo
We know little of the people behind luxury watch brands. After all, the brand itself should take center stage. In the case of Patek Philippe, beyond the Sterns, we know nothing of the people who make some of the world’s finest watches. But if there is any name that you should know from Patek Philippe, it is this: René H. Bittel. Strictly speaking, Bittel wasn’t exactly an employee of Patek Philippe. He was, however, the man responsible for much of the brand’s advertising and marketing efforts in the ’80s and ’90s. This is the story of how Bittel turned Patek Philippe into one of the most desirable watch brands in the world.
Source: Watches by SJX
Grand Seiko has been lauded by many for having some of the best finishing you can find. Their dials, in particular, have received wide praise and the one that is arguably the most unique and talked about is the SBGA211. The SBGA211 is commonly referred to simply as the ‘Snowflake’ because of the way its dial resembles freshly fallen snow. It looks amazing in the flesh and is unlike any other watch dial. To fully appreciate the beauty of the dial, here are some high-resolution macro shots of the SBGA211.
Bronze is one of the hottest materials in watchmaking right now. In recent years, numerous brands have turned to bronze in attempts to spice up their collections. Oris, Bell & Ross, and Zenith are examples of some brands that have released bronze watches in the past few years. One of the reasons for bronze’s popularity is its ability to develop patina. What makes it even more alluring is that the patina varies depending on the wearer and environment. In other words, no two bronze watches will develop the same patina. However, these patina effects often take a long time to develop, but you can speed it up with some common reactants that you can find around at home including lemonade, coffee, and vinegar. Take a look at what happens when you mix your bronze watch with these reactants.
In 2016, Girard-Perregaux brought the Laureato back as a limited edition watch. It was warmly received and so in 2017, Girard-Perregaux introduced a whole range of Laureato watches in various sizes and in various materials. Unless you have been in the watch game for a long time, you probably won’t be familiar with the Laureato and might dismiss it as yet another stainless steel sports watch with an integrated bracelet – a Royal Oak wannabe. You would be right and wrong. The Laureato was born in the mid-’70s, not long after the Royal Oak and it was clearly inspired by it. However, it differed in that it was conceived as a quartz chronometer. Girard-Perregaux’s goals with the watch were to embrace quartz technology and to make an extremely accurate watch. This philosophy was entirely different from the Royal Oak. Learn more about the Laureato in the link below.
It’s not everyday that a young watchmaker makes a tourbillon watch and this was exactly what 21-year-old Remy Cools did. Like many watchmaking schools, Cools had to build a watch in order to graduate. And the watch he chose to build is certainly impressive. It is a simple time-only watch but it features a tourbillon. Cools built the watch almost entirely on his own, crafting the case, hands, and movement. The movement uses the gear train of a Unitas 6497 but with its oscillator replaced by a large one-minute tourbillon. The tourbillon itself was mostly made by Cools by hand, including the hairspring. The balance wheel came from an early 1900s pocket watch. Of course, the movement is well decorated and has graining on all flat surfaces, beveled bridges, and black polishing on steel components. All in all, the watch shows a level of thoughtfulness that is remarkable to see for a young watchmaker.